LONDON: House prices in the UK rose by 1.9% in January, the first month-on-month increase in almost a year, though they still fell 17.2% on the year-ago period, according to Halifax, one of the country's main mortgage providers.

Halifax estimates that the average house price rose for the first time in eleven months in January, beating analysts' predictions of a 1.8% monthly decline and an 18.6% annual slide.

For the three months until January, prices were actually down by 5.1% compared with the three months to December, but Martin Ellis, chief economist at the Halifax, was still cautiously positive.

Said he: "There are some very early signs that market activity may be stabilizing, albeit at quite a low level.

"Nonetheless, continuing pressures on incomes, rising unemployment and the negative impact of the dislocation of the financial markets on the availability of mortgage finance are expected to mean that 2009 will be a difficult year for the housing market,"

The total number of mortgage approvals also rose from 27,000 in November to 31,000 in December, according to figures from the Bank of England.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff